Over 100 Women Share How They Avoid Harassment
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106 College Women Share The Excuses They Give To Creepy Men To Protect Themselves

"Men respect other men more than my right to say no."

106 College Women Share The Excuses They Give To Creepy Men To Protect Themselves

"What do you do to protect yourself from creepy guys?"

I created a survey. It was a relatively short Google Form that contained just three questions. Nothing too much, but elaboration was encouraged.

I asked for personal experiences, legitimate excuses women have given in situations with men where they wanted a way out but felt too uncomfortable to just leave without a "real reason."

I received over 100 responses before I decided to no longer accept more.

Immediately, a million red flags came up. Over 100 women sampled from the various communities and social media platforms that I am a member of had personal experiences where the unwanted and unwarranted approach of a man made them too uncomfortable.

This is a problem.

Women everywhere live in fear daily of these uncomfortable situations. Whether it's a guy grabbing ass at a party, catcalling on the walk home, walking past at night, or creepily talking for too long, it doesn't matter—Women shouldn't need to constantly be afraid.

We aren't overreacting. We shouldn't feel the need to lie in order to excuse ourselves, to leave an uncomfortable situation, or to feel safer.

Here are 106 responses that women have given creepy men in order to get away from them.

Q. "What is an excuse you've used to get out of an uncomfortable situation with a man?"

1. I have to go to work (2)

2. I have a boyfriend (2)

3. I'm on my period (2)

4. Say I have a boyfriend and then pull up a random photo of me with a guy friend

5. Feeling sick and needing to leave

6. Say "I will literally screech if you keep speaking with me"

7. Family emergency

8. I really gotta get going, my friend is expecting me

9. I had an assignment due in an hour and I needed to go do it

10. I have a boyfriend (I actually don't)

11. I gotta get back to work

12. My friend Zoe one time claimed she had a boyfriend (a classic cue for any reasonable man to back off) BUT this man did not. He said "He doesn't have to know," which really alarmed her and she got out of that bar very quickly.

13. I forgot something, I have to go back

14. I'm late for class/meeting someone/work

15. My mom texted me saying I need to come home

16. I have a boyfriend (which I really do)

17. I am a lesbian, or I have to get back to work

18. "I have a boyfriend" even when I don't. Because men respect other men more than my right to say no.

19. Sorry I'm a lesbian

20. I need to go find my friend

21. Oh damn, sorry, I have to take this call, it's my kid.

22. I used to wear a ring my mom got me on my ring finger when I'd go out and just flash the ring at men and that usually worked

23. I have homework

24. Lie about having a boyfriend

25. I have a boyfriend (when I don't have one)

26. My friends are here

27. I have to go, I need to be up early tomorrow

28. I've got a lot of homework I need to do

29. I have to pick up my daughter. For some reason, the majority of creepy men get less creepy when there are children involved.

30. I'm so sorry, I have to get to my next class, I can't afford to miss it again

31. I was on the way to Pride in Chicago with my best friend (female) on the train and some guys came up and were definitely on something and they stared and made comments about my body and how they wanted me, and my friends and I tried to ignore by playing on our phones.

32. My friends are waiting

33. I have a boyfriend, I have to go

34. Laugh and then say I need to go check on my friend

35. Act like someone is calling me and leave

36. I've used the classic "I have a boyfriend" and when that doesn't work, I point to an extremely buff man and say "That's my boyfriend and he'll beat you up if you don't leave me alone."

37. If I'm with other friends, I try to go back to them

38. I ignore it or say I'm not interested (I'm pushing 50, it's taken me a long time to get to this point)

39. "Oh I have to go, someone's waiting on me" or some variation, letting them know someone is expecting me

40. Sorry, I'm late to meet my boyfriend

41. I have to pee

42. Pretend my friend is calling and say I need to go

43. My mom is calling, my friend needs me, I have to go home now, I have a lot of homework to do, I already have plans, I didn't get your message, my phone must be messing up

44. Oh hey I see my brother, gtg

45. Basically just responded "okay" to everything he said until he left. Then I went to go get my manager.

46. Take a fake call or send a code word to my best friend or mom to call

47. My boyfriend is just over there

48. I wear a fake engagement ring when I'm out by myself and tell them my fiancé is at home waiting for me

49. Texted my friend to call for an "emergency"

50. I have a boyfriend, my friends are looking for me, I have to go

51. I'm meeting my friend somewhere

52. I'm sorry, I have to go check on my babysitter

53. My husband just called and said my father was just in a car wreck I need to go

54. Go to the restroom or just walk away

55. My boyfriend is waiting for me (don't have one)

56. I have to use the restroom

57. I just remembered I have homework, maybe we can hang out some other time?

58. I have a bf, I'm busy, I'm not interested, I'm late for a meeting, sorry my Uber's here

59. My husband is about to pick me up

60. I have to pick up my sister from a party

61. *checks phone* gtg my friend needs me

62. I have a group chat with my sisters and if you text "call," one of them will call with an "emergency"

63. Faked a phone call and had to take it and leave

64. Pretended my roommate was calling

65. One time my guy friend pretended to be my boyfriend! He played along, and so now anytime someone strange is talking to me, we have a plan in place

66. I'm meeting a friend and need to go

67. I'm late for a meeting

68. I have a boyfriend or I like women

69. I usually just say "I gotta go" and walk away. I don't apologize either.

70. I just leave

71. I need to go sit down

72. I have to go to the bathroom, it was nice meeting you...

73. I've got to go find my friends bye

74. I have a boyfriend

75. I need to study

76. I'm not feeling well

77. I told them I have an emergency at home I had to leave for

78. My ride is here

79. I was working at an amusement park and a dad hit on me while his kid was right there. I lied and said I was 16 (I was 18).

80. Sorry I have a boyfriend, sorry I'm in a rush to get to my friends

81. I'm gay

82. I'm in a hurry

83. Faked being on the phone, made a male friend be my "boyfriend," running late to work, friends are leaving

84. I'm pregnant or I'm gay

85. I have a boyfriend (not true)

86. I already promised my roommate I'd x,y,z

87. I have to go, I'm meeting a friend for dinner/lunch/coffee

88. I'm a substitute teacher (mostly middle and high school) so I get a lot of unwanted advances from cocky teenage boys. I started wearing a fake engagement/wedding ring and sadly it helps so much. I've used my boyfriend or just friends as an excuse so many times (I'm meeting them, waiting on someone, they went to the bathroom, etc)

89. I'm married

90. I'm late for a meeting with someone

91. I text my boyfriend/mom and ask for a phone call so I can politely excuse myself

92. I have to go find my friend

93. Mention I have to go to the bathroom

94. My boyfriend is waiting for me in the car, I'm pregnant

95. I came out with my friends and I'm hanging out with them

96. Other (3)

Q. What is a reply/"comeback" you've said in response to a catcall?

1. Fuck off (3)

2. No thanks (2)

3. You wish

4. Your ignorance is apparent

5. Fuck you, asshole

6. I usually ignore them completely and don't give a response

7. Go fuck yourself, because I sure as hell won't fuck you

8. A middle finger

9. I didn't do anything because the elevator doors were already closing on me and the catcall person and his friends were staying in the room I was leaving, playing a game of pool. I was slightly flattered and slightly alarmed. If I went back today, I would've thrown daggers at them with my eyes.

10. I have a boyfriend

11. Dirty looks

12. I never reply to catcalls, I usually just give them a glare and keep walking

13. Being quiet and looking down

14. Look down, slightly ashamed of being a girl because if I were to confront it, the situation would escalate and who knows what could happen. Walk away in silence and then when I ignore them, they start calling me ugly names because I'm being "rude."

15. Thumbs up

16. Eye roll and keep on walking

17. I usually don't say anything in fear of being followed. But sometimes I give a good "fuck off"

18. Whenever an unwanted older guy (40+) tries to chat me up, I tell him I was born in 1995 to make him feel incredibly old and creepy (because he is)

19. Replying to "Hey Mami," I'll say "Oh wow, are you my kid's dad!?"

20. I usually just yell "who raised you"

21. Uhhhh

22. Head down, keep walking

23. Fuck off.

24. Nothing, too scared

25. Middle finger

26. Wow, so much class (HEAVY sarcasm)

27. I have this look....I hear it's terrifying. It definitely stops men from doing more. I also just keep walking or enter a store or place with people.

28. Eye roll

29. He said "You'd be really hot if you weren't wearing that shirt," and it was a feminist shirt. I said "You'd be really smart if you kept your mouth shut"

30. Walked in the opposite direction with no verbal comeback

31. I don't say anything. I speed walk away for my safety.

32. Nothing, I don't want to be aggressive and anger them

33. Nothing

34. Fuck you

35. Sometimes a middle finger in their direction. Sometimes I stop and straight up tell them how disrespectful it was.

36. I don't get catcalled at my age. If I did, I'd ignore it. Don't feed the trolls.

37. Usually nothing for fear of getting harassed further. I would just love to shout "Fuck off!"

38. I usually don't reply or give it any attention

39. "No thanks," ignore them, or "Seriously?" Depending on the situation and person

40. Could you be any more childish?

41. I just keep walking because they're too disgusting to deserve a response that will give them that attention

42. You couldn't handle me, asshole

43. I never reply -- I always keep walking, faster

44. My fiancé probably wouldn't like that, fuck off, go away, I ignored them, I pretended to get a phone call

45. Does this ever work for you??

46. I think I've only glared in response or pretended not to hear it

47. (Sarcastically) Wow, your dick must be sooo big

48. I usually ignore them or flip them off

49. Idk let me ask my mom

50. Given the finger

51. I just awkwardly laugh and keep walking

52. Dirty look or middle finger

53. I don't respond

54. And the winner for lack of manners and masculinity is...

55. What do you mean? (Make them feel dumb)

56. Avoid eye contact

57. Most times I just do my best to ignore it

58. I've never verbally responded. I always keep walking and try to pretend that I didn't hear it in hopes that the person who catcalled will lose interest

59. Flip them off or just ignore it because I don't want to make it worse

60. A guy whistled and I flipped him off

61. Get a life

62. Flip the bird

63. I don't. I just keep walking. Better safe and ignored than sorry.

64. Fuck off, flip them the bird, are you serious? etc

65. Get lost

66. I totally ignore and don't make eye contact

67. I personally just laugh because I don't find them that offensive

68. I know your momma taught you better than this

69. I just ignore them

70. I have not been catcalled that I can recall, but I know there have been times where I've "prepared" a response in advance if the situation should ever arise

71. I usually just give them a dirty look and keep walking. Or don't give them a look at all, since my response is what they are hoping for

72. Fuck you

73. No thanks

74. Silence. I never talk back out of fear of retaliation.

75. I just walk away because I don't want to start something

76. Ignore

77. I usually don't have a comeback because I'm afraid of making the guy mad and having him come after me. So I ignore it and walk away.

78. Don't respond

79. Fuck off, I'll beat your ass

80. Bye

81. Fuck off. I was yelled at from a man's work vehicle and said "I'll let your boss know that's how you feel"

82. You're pathetic, seriously? Fuck off

83. None, I just ignore it

84. Fuck off

85. I'll let my husband know you said that. But I'll be laughing like it's a little joke

86. Not really a catcall, but during student teaching I had this one senior boy who kept asking me to go to prom with him. One day, I looked at him and said "Why? Do you need a chaperone because your mom is busy or is it because your sister refused to go with you?" I got some giggles from the other students, but I never got a "proposal" during class again!

87. Ignore it and walk faster

88. I ignore them

89. Look, don't touch, go fuck yourself, leave me alone

90. Flipped off

91. Thanks, I grew it myself

92. Ignore and hope they stop

93. Glare and look away

94. Nothing -- I walk away

95. Other

Q. What is an excuse you've given to get out of an uncomfortable conversation with a man?

1. I have a boyfriend (2)

2. Said my ride was here and ran

3. My dad's a cop and wouldn't appreciate this

4. Did you know republican men are the weakest beings in the ecosystem?

5. Hey, it looks like my friend is really drunk and needs my help. I'm gonna go be with her. Thanks for the drink. Hope you have a nice night!

6. I'm engaged

7. Friends need me, I have to go to a meeting, literally told a man he was boring once

8. I have a boyfriend (again, I don't)

9. Gotta get back to work, or so and so is waiting for me

10. That I have to go and talk to someone else I know at the same event, and usually this person is in a huge group so I just become one with their circle and ignore the guy for the rest of the night and maybe even for two more weeks

11. Silence, ignoring him

12. Okay, thank you, bye. I'm late for...

13. That I have to be somewhere else

14. I am busy

15. Gotta go, my girlfriend is waiting for me

16. Sorry, I have a boyfriend (even when I didn't)

17. I need to go find my friend, I have a boyfriend, I need to make a call, I have to go to the bathroom

18. I've told guys that my best friend is literally throwing up and I have to go help her, and then I run away. Especially in a crowded bar, it is so easy to have men put a hand on your lower back to "keep you" next to him the entire time. When I feel this happening, I try to think of the most outrageous excuse so he doesn't have time ot process it and then, quite literally, sprint away.

19. I have a girlfriend

20. I'll text one of my friends to either come get me or to call me. We have a code of "left the mac and cheese on the stove," which is a "creepier but not too scared so just call." We also have "the dog got out" as a "call me and come find me now." I will also tell men I'm underage if it's out on the street and that usually gets them to go away.

21. Oh, I gotta go get my siblings from school

22. My friend was waiting for me outside

23. I have to go call my boyfriend (when I don't have one)

24. I have to call my parents now

25. I'm gay

26. I should probably get going

27. "Oh hey thanks" as I touch them on the arm "how nice of you" as I walk to someone else

28. I check my phone and say "Oh sorry, I have to go find my friend"

29. We ended up telling the guy we were dating and underage, and he still wouldn't leave us alone about what our names were, where we lived, etc

30. Pretend I have a phone call

31. I have a boyfriend, walk away, I'm late I gotta go

32. Fake laugh and lie

33. Sorry I have to go call/find my friend

34. I say I have a meeting or have to head to work. I've also just said I'm really tired and need to sleep.

35. I don't let the convo go long enough to let it reach this point. I'll shut it down fast.

36. I've got a boyfriend (even though I didn't)

37. Saying I'm busy or just walking away

38. I usually say that I have a boyfriend or just awkwardly laugh and walk away

39. Sorry, I think my friend is wanting to go home

40. I think my friend is crying in the bathroom, I should go check on her

41. I have a boyfriend

42. I have literally told a man that my fiancé was calling me and he kept trying to hit on me

43. Oh hey I see my brother gtg

44. Suddenly look at my watch and "realize" I need to get going

45. I'm gay or I have a boyfriend

46. I'm only 17

47. I say "I need to go, my fiancé is calling me," and I'll just start a fake phone conversation with no one on the other end of the line

48. Let me text my group chat and see what my friends say to this

49. If it's through phone, I stop replying. In person, I usually say I have to go find my friends

50. I have to get back to my friend

51. I don't like you and I'm going to walk away from you now

52. I am on my way to meet my boyfriend (don't have one)

53. I have a boyfriend/husband

54. I have to go to the bathroom, my friend needs me

55. I'm sorry, my mom's calling me

56. I'm really tired, I think I should head home to get some sleep

57. I dip out asap

58. My husband is parking the car and will be here soon

59. I was blunt and said I have got to go home

60. Sorry. My boyfriend is waiting for me. Then I walk away as fast as I can

61. Tell them "you're making me uncomfortable" and hope they understand but they never do, so I eventually have to leave the conversation with a phone call or needing to use the bathroom

62. I'm in high school (I'm not)

63. My guy friend actually saved me one time and saw that a guy was talking to me at a club so he came over and was like "Hey, you ready to leave?" And I said yes, of course, and we got out of there before the flirtatious guy had a chance to say anything

64. I have somewhere I need to be

65. My friend is over there so I have to go

66. I'll have a friend call like there is an emergency

67. I have a boyfriend

68. A friend called me or had a friend pull me away

69. My friend is waiting for me

70. I usually laugh (in a humoring way), as I am too anxious to cut off conversations. I usually sit through it until there's an opportunity for us to part ways.

71. Yeah, I don't like where this is going, I'm gonna go find my friends now, bye.

72. I've got to go find my friends

73. I have to go find my boyfriend

74. My brother is a cop

75. I'm going to bed

76. I look at my phone and act like I'm reading an important message and then tell them I had to leave because an emergency came up.

77. I'm in a relationship when I'm single

78. Said I needed to go take care of my drunk friend

79. Say that I'm going to the restroom and try to leave. I've also asked a random girl to act like I'm her friend because I was afraid to say anything else to the guy

80. I'm gay

81. I have school, have my best friend call me, I have to do...

82. My friends are waiting for me

83. Usually, I say I'm running late to something or fake a phone call

84. Pretend to get a phone call, say I'm going to be late for work, or pretend I'm about to throw up and walk fast.

85. I'm meeting a friend for coffee/dinner/lunch. Isn't it interesting that we have to justify WHY we have to leave? It's polite, but why are we being polite to people who are making us uncomfortable?

86. I used to babysit a lot, so I had pictures on my phone of the different kids. When a conversation became uncomfortable, I would whip it out and start showing pictures of "my" children and he would usually find an excuse to end the conversation pretty quickly.

87. I have somewhere I need to be

88. I need to leave to go somewhere

89. I have to go to class/work

90. I'm late for class

91. I'm going to scream if you don't leave me alone

92. I have to go to work

93. My parents are expecting me home soon, I have to go

94. I have to leave, sorry

95. Nothing, I just turn to walk away

96. I need to check on my friend

97. My mom is calling, I have to take this

98. I don't want to talk to you any longer.

99. Leave me alone.

100. I need to go check on my friend.

Do you see the problem now? We have to tell these creepy men that we have boyfriends even if we don't because men respect other men more than they respect ourselves. We have to apologize to people making us uncomfortable because it feels wrong to not.

There is a problem. Women should be able to walk without being hollered at. Women shouldn't be afraid to say anything in fear of further harassment. The amount of responses of this Google Form is just a drop in the bucket in the number of women who deal with these things every day.

Something has to change.

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